India plans 1st human clinical trials of cannabis to treat cancer, epilepsy and blood disorders

Government scientists are preparing for India’s first human clinical trials to test cannabis-based compounds on select diseases in line with what they say is a global resurgence in the medical applications of marijuana derivatives.

The researchers have sought regulatory approval for a trial to evaluate these compounds on cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai.

They are also planning trials in other hospitals for a difficult-to-treat form of epilepsy and a blood disorder called sickle cell anaemia.

The Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) in Jammu, a unit of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research that has cultivated cannabis for research on a one-acre plot, will formulate the derivative compounds for the trials.

The 1985 Narcotic Drugs and Psychoactive Substances Act bans commercial cultivation of cannabis. The harvesting of wild plants helps feed the nation’s demand for illegal weed as well as legal bhang, a drink used on festive occasions.

“We’re trying to generate medical

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